1. The question of the propriety of the non-employment of three workmen was referred under Section 10(1)(c) of the Industrial Disputes Act for adjudication. They were all dismissed by the management by the order, dated 1st November, 1960, on a charge that on the morning of 24th September, 1960, they instigated the other workmen not to work since there was a move on the part of the workmen to ask for a holiday that day on account of rain. The management at the domestic enquiry found the charge proved and punished the workmen as aforesaid. The propriety of this action questioned by the three dismissed workmen became the subject of an industrial dispute which was eventually referred for adjudication. The Labour Court, Coimbatore, came to the conclusion that there was altogether no basis for the charge and in that view directed the reinstatement of the three workmen with back wages. This petition is to quash the award.
2. The point urged for the management is that the Labour Court exceeded its jurisdiction, reviewed the evidence led at the domestic enquiry as well as before it and came to its own conclusion differing from the finding of the domestic enquiry that the charge was not proved. This Court in Travancore Knitting Co. Tiruppur v. Muthuswamy : (1962)ILLJ365Mad set out the principles which should govern the Labour Court, in dealing with the disciplinary order of a domestic Tribunal. There the Court observed:
In dealing with an order, such as in the case of a domestic Tribunal, the power of the Labour Court is confined only to see whether in making the order, the management acted mala fide, or there was victimisation or unfair labour practice or violation of the principles of natural justice or the finding of the domestic Tribunal is without a basis in the sense that it is entirely not supported by any evidence whatever as distinguished from sufficiency or adequacy of the evidence.
Evidently in this case, the Labour Court considered that the domestic enquiry was not fair. No doubt the Labour Court did not say so expressly but a perusal of its award makes that explicit. The Labour Court said:
I must say that some of the questions put by the Manager at the domestic enquiry after the questions put by these workers to the management's witnesses seem to be leading and suggesting the answers to support the charge.
A Tribunal charged with quasi-judicial functions, and a domestic tribunal is of such a nature-is expected to approach the question for decision by it in an objective manner. If facts of the enquiry show that an attempt was made in it to put leading questions in order to get answers in support of the charge, it is obvious that such an enquiry cannot be to said be quite fair. The conductor, who was examined at the enquiry in the first instance gave evidence that it was only Selvaraj and not all the three persons ultimately dismissed who, before the commencement of the work at the normal time of 8 a.m. engaged himself in an argument with the workmen not to attend to the work that day. But the Labour Court in effect points out that by putting leading questions to the conductor and suggesting answers in support of the charges the management got what it wanted. This was definitely, a serious point that threw doubt over the fairness of the enquiry. The Labour Court was, therefore, justified in examining the evidence itself both at the enquiry and before it and on an assessment thereof, coming to the conclusion as to the propriety or otherwise of the action taken by the management against the workmen concerned.
3. It however, seems to be that the Labour Court was also justified in holding that there was no basis at all for the charge because it was common ground that all the workmen on the particular day went to work at 8 a.m. which was the usual hour for the commencement of the work. On the evidence it appeared that they turned up for work at 7-30 a.m. and because of the inclement weather, there was a request from them or atleast from sone of them that a holiday should be declared. But when the orders came from the General Manager at 7-55 a.m. or 8 a.m. that no holiday would be declared, all went to work. In such circumstances, the Labour Court reasoned that it could not properly be said that there was instigation by the dismissed workmen that the other workmen should not commence work that day. I find nothing wrong in the approach made by the Labour Court.
4. Petition is dismissed with costs of the 2nd respondent. Counsel's fee Rs. 100.